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COVID-19 has caused many businesses to shut down or transition their employees to work from home, disrupting daily work life for many. As stay-at-home regulations are scaled back and all businesses are allowed to resume as normal, your employees will be asked to come back to work. While they may not be coming back from an injury or leave, you need to have a plan in place for all employees to safely and successfully return to work.

While you may need to tailor your organization’s COVID-19 return to work plan to employees’ specific needs (e.g., child care arrangements, caregiving responsibilities and health issues), having a generalized plan in place can help you safely reopen your business.

Your COVID-19 return to work plan should include the following:

  • Anticipated return to work date—With the uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought, it’s important to give clear information and dates when employees are to return to work whenever possible. Be sure to be flexible with your dates, though, as local and state orders are frequently updated.
  • Disinfecting and cleaning measures—Because COVID-19 can remain on surfaces long after they’ve been touched, it’s important that your business frequently cleans and disinfects the facility. Some best practices include:
    • Cleaning and disinfecting all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails and doorknobs.
    • Discouraging workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
    • Providing disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by employees before each use.
  • Social distancing protocol—Social distancing is the practice of deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. In terms of COVID-19, social distancing best practices for businesses can include:
    • Avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people
    • Instructing workers to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other people
    • Hosting meetings virtually when possible
    • Limiting the number of people on the job site to essential personnel only
    • Discouraging people from shaking hands
  • Employee screening procedures—To keep employees safe, consider conducting screening procedures to identify potentially ill employees before they enter the office.
  • Employee safety training—Your return-to-work plan should include detailed safety training guidance to ensure that all employees understand how they can prevent the spread of COVID-19. Your plan should discuss the following safety training topics:
  • Mental health considerations—It’s important that your return-to-work plan includes guidance for managing employee mental health concerns when employees return to work.
  • Process for individualized requests—Your return-to-work plan should include information about how employees can go about making individualized requests for changes to a return-to-work plan.

Your return to work plan should be tailored to your business’s unique needs and should follow local and state regulations. Reach out to INSURICA for assistance with creating a unique return to work plan for your organization.

Return to Work Considerations

Returning to work after the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to bring challenges to your organization. Some of the most common challenges that you’ll need to be prepared for include the following:

  • Changing worker priorities
  • Updating the office layout
  • Adapting to changing rules and regulations
  • Managing reputational effects

Remember, reopening your business after the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t as simple as opening your doors. You’ll need to carefully evaluate each step of your reopening and gradually ask employees to return to work.

Continued Safety

The next phase of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic involves reopening your business. While this task may seem daunting, we’re here to help every step of the way. Contact INSURICA today to learn what actions you need to take to ensure your employees’ return to work is as seamless as possible.

This Risk Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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